Worker may get transfer to be closer to medical treatment

A secretary with the U.S. Forest Service might be entitled to a job transfer so she can live closer to available medical treatment for her vision problems, a federal appeals court recently decided.

The employee, who worked in Texas, suffered brain damage in a fall at work that resulted in her losing the left half of her field of vision. She requested a hardship transfer to an office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she would have access to specialists who were qualified to provide therapy for her injury.

The government denied her request, claiming it had no open position in Albuquerque. Her performance suffered because of her vision problems and she was forced to accept a demotion.

She sued for disability discrimination, and the court allowed the suit to go forward.

According to the court, even if the woman could perform the essential functions of her job without receiving therapy in Albuquerque, a transfer could nevertheless be considered a reasonable accommodation for her condition.